The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The five stories in this collection vary in length and were written and published separately in various science-fiction magazines, including Argosy. The first story, “Mother,” was published in 1953 and focuses on the concept of maternal relationships. Paula, a domineering female scientist, and her son Eddie, a mother-fixated divorcé, embark on a scientific expedition, only to crash-land on the planet Baudelaire. They are captured by a race of intelligent, wholly female vegetables.

Once inside his new mother, Eddie functions as a sexual parasite living in the stomach womb of the vegetable. He is fed by her and accepted as one of her own babies, while also becoming her mate. In his adaptation to the mother’s environment, Eddie forgets his real mother and comes to accept the plant as his surrogate. Inside the womb, he becomes progressively infantilized and finally accepts his place and function there.

The second story, “Daughter,” is in some ways a sequel, as it concerns three daughters, the probable offspring of Eddie and his new mother. Two of the daughters are killed because of their stupidity and lack of foresight, but the third adapts through a combination of wile and scientific principles learned from her human father. By altering her body structure, she traps and kills the creature responsible for her sisters’ deaths. She comes to represent a progressively adaptive new species, combining the powers of physical...

(The entire section is 538 words.)